The Lismore City Council has been asked to consider a $90 million expansion of the Lismore Shopping Square, but already there are fears it could kill off business in the CBD.
Lismore mayor Isaac Smith has asked for feedback on a request from developers, McConaghy Properties, for the council to enter into a memorandum of understanding, and to delay the proposed redevelopment of the controversial Lismore Park proposal.
Cr Smith said although there was not a let of detail in the request, it would be expected that any expansion would go across Brewster Street onto the disused hockey fields.
‘It cannot go in any other direction, including up, due to a number of restrictions,’ he said in a Facebook post.
He listed as ‘major pros’, the proposed injection of $90 million into the Lismore economy, with the creation of construction jobs and ongoing employment.
Also, money raised by the sale of land would allow the council to invest in other projects such as the Lismore Park proposal, CBD improvements, riverbank development and sporting facilities.
An expanded shopping centre would draw more shoppers to Lismore, he said.
But the drawbacks would be a loss of public land, and the potential negative impact on some CBD businesses if retail shops were duplicated in the proposed expansion.
Already Cr Eddie Lloyd has signalled her opposition to the proposal, saying any expansion of the square would have a huge impact on the CBD, which still had 76 shops empty after the March flood.
She outlined eight reasons why the expansion should not go ahead.
1. Our CBD has copped enough of an impact with 76 vacancies since the flood. An expansion will have a huge impact on the CBD and will see the end of more businesses who cannot compete with franchised stores.
2. The developer, McConaughy Properties will not disclose the tenant mix until after a DA is approved.
3. Don’t be fooled into thinking this expansion means we will be getting shops like DJ’s, Myers, Country Road, Witchery and the like. We know that those shops are NOT INTERESTED in coming to Lismore. If they were, surely they would be here by now!!! There have been vacancies in the CBD and Square for years yet none of those styled shops have come here.
4. There is the very real risk that more CBD shops will move into the square thus emptying and shelling out our CBD even more.
5. The expansion will mean selling off our community land, and will chomp up one third of our Lismore Park. This is YOUR land, and we shouldn’t be flogging off public, community land to developers.
6. The profits from the new shops, which will likely be multinational chains and franchises and such profits will NOT stay in our town. The only benefit is staff employed by these franchises/retail stores.
7. This expansion will not benefit our town, having more of the same chains in the square is not going to draw more people to the area.
8. Don’t be fooled into believing that the only way we can get Lismore Park is by selling off this land. There are grants available that council can and will be applying for.
The matter will be considered at next week’s meeting of the council in Goonellabah.